Top stallions escape stud blaze

  • Flames rampaged through Whorridge Farm Stud in Devon last week, destroying the cottage and a large part of the house. The fire brigade managed to bring the fire under control before it reached the stables.

    The stud, owned by Edward and Clarissa Bleekman, is home to leading stallions Grannex, Thornberry and Primmore’s Pioneer. All the horses were safely evacuated from the stables and suffered no injuries.

    “The firemen were fantastic and there was no damage to animals or people,” said former Eventing gold medallist Clarissa Bleekman, who has completed Badminton 15 times. “The stallions all behaved impeccably as they were led from the stables to the field.”

    The Bleekmans are presently camping out with Mark Mingo and his family while the full extend of the damage is assessed.

    “Although we managed to salvage a lot of things, the grooms lost all their clothes and my eldest daughter Althea was particularly upset to lose all her riding things,” explains Bleekman.

    A faulty boiler in the groom’s cottage is thought to have been the cause of the fire. Devon and Cornwall police said: “At this stage it is being treated as a house fire and appears not suspicious. We are not investigating it further.”

    Bleekman is being pragmatic about the situation: “We have a temporary kitchen in one of the barns along with our dining room table. The farm and all my lessons are continuing as normal – we’ll live to fight another day.”

    Unfortunately top horses at racehorse trainer Bob Johnson’s yard in Northumbria were not so lucky when they were caught up in a suspected arson attack on Thursday evening (29 September). Winning jumpers Jaccout and Dennis the Menace died during the fire, while Johnson was badly burnt and three other horses suffered superficial burns.

    Three men are thought to have been involved in the crime, with one man already arrested on suspicion of involvement. Police believe they intentionally lit a haystack in one of the barns. Anyone with information relating to the attack should contact Northumbria Police on 0191 454 7555.

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